A Weekend Swimming

With the mercury forecast into the 40’s we felt it necessary to head north and be near some water. Due to some life admin we weren’t underway till the early afternoon (in the peak of the heat). Now as much of an off road weapon Bone’s is she does fall short in the comfort department on an extremely hot summers day, so an impromptu swim in Lake Eildon was very welcomed before we climbed back into the sauna and continued on.

After passing through Mansfield we decided not to head north and up through Whitfield and Cheshunt but instead to head east then north through State Forest. We didn’t know it yet but this was a perfect decision as getting of the blacktop and into the bush we noticed a significant drop in the temperature.



After airing down at the beginning of Buttercup Jeep Track we climbed the loose rocky track to Bald Hill. As we were travelling on our own I make sure I take the time to air down my tyres as although the track conditions were good it is a lot easier to not get stuck than to have to air down in an unsafe position. It also looks after the track and does wonders for the comfort level in a leaf sprung Hilux.


Lake William Hovell

From Bald Hill we headed north along Cambatong Spur then on to Evans Creek track which lead us all the way to the beautiful site of Lake William Hovell. Lake William Hovell takes its name from Australian explorer William Hovell, who trekked through the region in 1824. Construction of the reservoir was completed in 1973. After another much needed refreshing swim we drove up river to find a campsite.


King River

About 4 or 5km up river we found a great spot right next to the King River and decided to call it a day and setup camp. A short 50m walk further upstream led us to an amazing waterhole and you guessed our final and nicest cool off for the day, before settling down to a relaxing evening in a near perfect camp spot.



Bones, Southern cross swag, King River

Our morning started with a return to the waterhole for a wakeup swim followed by some breakfast and a bit of camp chill time. We were looking at another high thirties day and it was warming up fast. With camp packed away we headed back to Lake William Hovell and found another delightful place to swim, before we drove north through the King Valley and beside the King River to Cheshunt.


King River, Waterhole at camp

From Cheshunt we decided to go south and visit Paradise Falls. To the carpark of Paradise Falls is about a 20 minute drive along a well maintained gravel road. There is a 500m walk down to the falls on a very good trail consisting mainly of stairs. The falls do not flow all year round and while we were there in January it was barely a trickle coming over. Some may have been disappointed but we loved it as we were able to lay back and watch the slight breeze deform the waterfall causing the small lizards and other insects move hastily to keep themselves on the cool wet stones below. I feel seeing it in both states being just a trickle and in full flood have different beauties to offer and we will return towards the end of spring to hopefully witness the other.


Lake William Hovell

It was now early afternoon and time to start heading back home. This time we drove to Whitfield and headed back towards Mansfield. This is an amazingly scenic drive winding through hills and forest. As we were close to home we made one final stop to swim at meeting of the waters in Buxton. Victoria is spoilt for choice with freshwater swimming options although some are a little further away they are definitely worth the effort and it’s a great excuse for a quick overnighter especially on these really hot summer weekends.


Take care, Mat

Bones the Hilux


The early days, just after purchase August 2015


I thought I would take a moment to introduce to you Bones, my trusty Hilux. We’ve only been together for a couple of years but have shared some good times and she is yet to let me down, no surprises there it’s a Hilux. Bones is a 1993 2.8L diesel single cab Hilux, solid axles front and rear with leaf springs all round. I have owned three different generations of Hilux and to many peoples surprise this would be my favourite. I gave up comfort and power for simple mechanical reliability, not to mention saving a few pennies while I was at it.


Aluminium tray, Suspension and tyres fitted.  Canopy in the background on my old new ute!


This vehicle is built as a weekend tourer with the capability of longer trips with some slight changes. One of my main aims is to have a comfortable, ready to go, easy to setup vehicle to maximise outdoor opportunities. I find if everything is well organised you are more likely to head away on short notice as packing and unpacking is not so much of a chore.

Below is a list of current mods, including some brief descriptions about them and why I chose them. I will also add a future plans list because lets face it who has ever seen a finished perfect 4WD.


Bones’s current state



As with most utes comfort is not there strong point from the factory, I learnt early on with my first Hilux a good suspension setup changes a vehicle drastically. I fitted a 50mm lift, using Dobinsons leaf springs and Bilstein shocks. I also fitted an adjustable torque rod and a dropped drag link, these were recommended to me to bring some correct geometry back to the front end. The bilstein/dobinson combo gives a superior ride over stock with good flex off-road. Caloffroad in NSW supplied the kit, this is the second kit I have bought from Cal and both times he has gone out of his way to answer any questions and make sure he supplies exactly what I am after.


Testing the new suspension setup, South coast of WA


Wheels and Tyres

31×10.5R15 Mickey Thompson ATZ P3

15×8 -22 King Steel wheels in Black

These are the same wheels and tyres I ran on my last Hilux, be it a different size. I could not fault them, a lot of sand driving and a 10000km Kimberley trip and not one problem. I went with 31” tyres as I did not want to rob anymore of the Hilux’s power, it also places less stress on the drivetrain and does not require any mods.


12V System

The 12V system is simple yet works. I run two 12V batteries. A start battery located in original position under the bonnet and a second 100 amp hour deep cycle battery located in the canopy. The charging of the second battery is done via a REDARC BCDC1225 controller, which I would highly recommend. These units boost the rate of charge so your batteries are charged properly and also overcome any voltage drop from using long cables. There is also a provision to run a solar input, which is on my list of things to do. I find that this setup is good for one night maybe two without moving but anymore and it would require a drive/running the engine or solar input. There is also a 1000W inverter and a hard-wired CTEK MXS15 charger so I can plug into mains power at home or in campgrounds to top up as needed.


The kitchen/living side of the canopy



The storage side of the canopy


Other Mods

Steel framed aluminium cladded canopy (home built)

Rhino Rack sunseeker awning

Rhino Rack pioneer platform rack

Snorkel (EBay)

Runva 11000LB winch

ARB Bullbar

Narva Ultima 175 halogen driving lights


For navigation I use an iPad running a combination of Hema maps and Memory maps


Future Plans

Turbo Kit (obvious for anyone with experience with a 2.8!)

More fuel and water storage (custom tanks or Jerry space)

Canopy Layout change

Front and Rear Diff Lockers (because everyone wants lockers)

Solar panels


That is about all I can think of for now; I will go into more detail on some of the areas above in separate articles/reviews as time goes on. As many of you will understand it seems as I cross one mod off the to do list another two are added! In the meantime Bones isn’t perfect nor complete but we will still be getting out and enjoying the great outdoors as much as possible. Thanks for reading, if you would like any further details on anything above feel to let me know in the comments.